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Concerns Raised Over HMRC's Digitization Project

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

21 December 2015


Accountancy group UHY Hacker Young has warned that new UK reporting rules will require small companies to quadruple their data collation workload and submit accounts every quarter.

UHY Hacker Young's comments were in response to HM Revenue and Customs's (HMRC's) "Making Tax Digital" project. According to a new HMRC brief, by 2020, most businesses, self-employed people, and landlords will be required to "keep track of their tax affairs digitally and update HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account." These changes will be introduced for some businesses from April 2018, and will be phased in by 2020.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said that this marks "the end of the tax return – this is not going to feel like doing four tax returns a year. Indeed, we expect these reforms to ease the admin burdens on businesses and to help them plan their cash flow more easily, by providing greater certainty about what they will owe." He added that "updating HMRC directly in this way will be secure, light-touch, and far less burdensome than the tax returns of today."

However, Roy Maugham, Tax Partner at UHY Hacker Young, cautioned that quarterly reporting "will result in HMRC receiving a greater number of inaccurate reports," increasing HMRC's workload and resulting in an inefficient use of taxpayer money.

"It's common for accountants to work from estimates throughout the year and then to iron out any uncertainties at the year end. However, this will not be possible with quarterly reporting and will lead to HMRC receiving a high degree of variation from tax returns. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, the tax man has once again added to the red-tape burden for SMEs. These changes will just prevent SMEs from focussing on core money-raising activities," he said.

TAGS: tax | business | revenue guidance | United Kingdom | tax authority | revenue statistics | tax reform

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